A useful self‑assessment is to ask yourself: “How often have these statements felt true to me in the last year?”
- “I feel less enthusiastic about my work than before.” (evidence of possible emotional exhaustion)
- “I have become more insensitive toward people since I took this job” or “I have become more callous over time in my current role.” (evidence of possible depersonalization)
- “I can’t remember why I wanted to become a doctor.” (evidence of possible loss in sense of purpose)
If your answer is “more than a few times a year” for any of these statements, you are more likely to fall into the relevant sphere of burnout in a formal assessment. The third domain of burnout, low sense of personal accomplishment, is more difficult to measure and there is no single question that can give insight into this domain.
If you are a practicing physician, another option is to use the seven‑item Physician Well Being Index developed by Dyrbye and colleagues. A score of greater than or equal to four positive answers on the Index correlates with lower mental quality of life, a lack of well‑being and other markers of physician distress. The Index takes very little time to complete and the information obtained from answering the questions may be useful as a personal reference point. You may also consider using the validated mini‑Z questionnaire on an organization‑wide level to reliably measure staff burnout. Regular measurement and response to burnout should become an institutional best practice, a “vital sign” for organizations.